Designation and types of NPMs

In order to implement the OPCAT effectively, States need to start thinking about their NPM options as soon as they consider ratification.

The OPCAT does not prescribe any specific structure or model for the NPM. Each state will make the decision depending on its own national context and institutional landscape. So far, several models have emerged:

  • Creating a new and specialised body on torture prevention;
  • Designating a National Human Rights Commission or Ombuds Institution;
  • Designating an Ombuds Institution with formal involvement of civil society organisations;
  • Designating several institutions to serve the purpose of the NPM;



National Human Rights Institutions as National Preventive Mechanism. Excerpt from Preventing Torture: Operational Guide for National Human Rights Institutions (APF, APT and OHCHR).

APT's OPCAT Database includes detailed information on different NPM types, by country.

Depending on the national context, the establishment of the NPM can take place either before or after the ratification. Broad national consultations on the most suitable NPM options are important part to ensure an open process and provide legitimacy to the future NPM. The Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture has recommended that the “NPM should be developed by a public, inclusive and transparent process of establishment, including civil society and other actors involved in the prevention of torture; where an existing body is considered for designation as the NPM, the matter should be open for debate, including civil society.”

The APT has developed a wide range of publications and papers to assist stakeholders in the process of establishing NPMs, sharing good practices and guidance on drafting NPM legislations.

Emergence of local mechanisms

Interesting developments have taken place recently in some federal and decentralised States, where draft national NPM laws allow for local mechanisms in each state, in addition to a federal body.

Local Preventive Mechanisms have been established in Argentina and Brazil.

Read also APTs briefing paper on OPCAT and Federal States.